Document Type


Publication Date



Gender identity -- Study and teaching, Sex role -- Study and teaching


Despite very recent and hard-earned progress in national and state legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination and bullying based on gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation, new teachers continue to report that their professional preparation programs do not adequately prepare them to address both the subtle and serious classroom-based bullying scenarios which routinely marginalize a particular group of students, those who identify as lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) students (Jennings, 2007). To be sure, we, as a teacher education community, need to push forward in our work to develop socially just teacher education curriculum and tasks which prepare teachers to acknowledge the importance of the “in between” and nuanced life spaces of the students they will teach, the students who represent a spectrum of being between the symbolic gender binary of the letters X or Y.

Fortunately, a number of recent research studies can be supportive of this goal. This growing body of research has begun carefully to provide evidence to help us understand that middle and high school classroom settings are situated places where harmful adolescent peer-policing toward the gender binary “X” or “Y” routinely occurs (GLSEN and Harris Interactive, 2012; Robinson & Espelage, 2001; Stoudt, 2006; Mora, 2012).

Adding to these important lines of inquiry, very recent work (proposal authors, 2014, 2015) has made use of narrative methodology to explore and uncover the specific ways elementary schoolchildren interact with one another about the spectrum of gender identity and/or expression. In addition, this body of work has uncovered several recurring and thematic school-placed plot patterns of student humiliation and shame, e.g. lived-out school stories of student shame and sorrow which routinely occur as a result of gender policing.

Yet even with these new and important lines of inquiry to propel us forward in our work toward socially just teacher preparation, much less is presently known about how preservice teachers’ perceive and interpret the everyday pedagogical practices of their mentor teachers as they daily interact and engage with students’ representative of a spectrum of gender identity and expression. The present study examines this important question through a careful and iterative analysis of the school-based narratives of a cadre of preservice teachers placed in elementary school settings with experienced and practicing teachers.


Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington DC.

Persistent Identifier